Getting started with PPC: keywords and targeting

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You may have read our introduction to keywords and ad formats in September, but this is a topic that deserves to be revisited regularly. If choosing keywords for pay-per-click (PPC) ads was simply a matter of picking out some relevant phrases, PPC success would be easy. The truth is, a strong keyword strategy requires research and testing, and it’s one of the main things that separates a high-performing PPC campaign from a mediocre one.

Similarly, appropriate targeting is a prerequisite for an effective PPC campaign. Great ads are worthless if they are reaching the wrong people. Let’s take a closer look:


First and foremost, you need to conduct robust keyword research, with a focus on long-tail keywords. In addition to identifying the phrases that align with your offerings, conduct live Google searches to assess the competitiveness of each keyword. Also look for what searches bring up your competitors’ ads. This may provide insight into where they are finding their customers.

A successful keyword strategy doesn’t end with tying your ads to specific searches. Because of how Google’s algorithm works, it’s critical to align keywords in your ads and on the landing pages those ads lead to. This isn’t just for Google: your audience is more likely to stay on your site if your ads lead them to the information they expect to find when they chose to click in the first place. Instead of just creating ads based on your landing pages, do your keyword research to determine what will attract your audience, and make adjustments to your landing pages as necessary.

How you group your ads is also important. As we’ll take a closer look at in our next post, using ad groups to organize keywords is one way to help align ads and landing pages as you work with your marketing team. Additionally, you must use keyword match types, which limit the specific searches that will trigger a display of your ad, making sure that it reaches the most relevant people at the times they are looking for it.


Not everyone who searches for particular terms on Google is actually a member of your desired audience, and that’s where targeting comes into play. There are several types of targeting that can help make your PPC ads more effective. Geotargeting allows you to specify where your ads should be served, while interest-based targeting segments your audience by common behaviors and indicated preferences. You can even target by device type.

With each type of targeting, you can also use bid target modifiers when a click in one category is more valuable to you than a click in another category. For example, an international company could use bid target modifiers to allocate a greater portion of its PPC budget to ads in the country where it expects to see the greatest ROI.

A great PPC campaign deserves to be paired with stellar marketing campaigns of every type. Are you looking for more insights to jumpstart your marketing? Browse our white paper library.

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